The 5 Most Common Website Content Errors

You have a shiny new website: responsive design, fluid branding, beautiful and intuitive user experience. So…now what? What words, images, and other content are you using to get your message out?

Business websites are not created equal, and content is still king. Avoid the most deadly (and common errors):

1. Too much information: Clients do not want (or need) every detail of every feature of every product you sell. Talk benefits, not features. Think SEO, not novel.

2. Too little information: Clients do, however, want to know what you have to offer. Talking about YOU and not about what you can do for THEM will get you nowhere fast.

3. No personality: Your website is speaking for you 24/7. Make sure it’s saying what you want it to say. Be the stand-out signal in the sea of digital noise.

4. Oversell: Websites laden with a million calls to action and demands for sales will turn off more buyers than a door-to-door vacuum salesman with halitosis. Seamless selling online is an art. Tread carefully.

5. Hidden contact info: There is nothing worse than getting excited about a product then having to jump through hoops to purchase it. Online shoppers are not that patient. Make it easy, make it fun.

Bad content can be avoided. If you need help to create content that converts, drop me a line!

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Internet Business

A Word for 2015

At the closing of every year, I try to choose a word that best describes my goals, my hopes, and my vision for the following year. Sounds hokey, but previous years’ words have helped me even in the middle of July when all “New Years Resolutions” have long since died.

In 2013, my word was “fearless”, which I’m still trying to live up to. 2013 was the year that my business started growing. It was the year of grinding, hoping and praying for just one more customer, trying to be everything to everyone.

2014, my year of “passion” brought me new challenges and new triumphs that I could never have imagined. Living every day with abandon has served me well, and along with fearlessness, will continue to be a goal in the coming year.

This long, long year has been spent fighting battles, putting out fires, and creating so many more opportunities for myself than I could ever have imagined. I have had more than my share of ups and downs, and I’m finally feeling like I have my feet under me.

So now, it’s time to BUILD.

The coming year, 2015, is all about building. I am going take everything I have begun, everything I have created, and build on it. I am going to stop “working on” myself and start building myself. I am going to build relationships. I am going to build all the new enterprises that took so much sweat and tears this year.

The blueprints have been designed, the supplies have been procured, and it’s time to put it all together.

This year, I am going to build the life I want.

What is YOUR word for 2015?

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If You Sell, You’re Selling Yourself

No, not like that. No one is actually going to buy you, there’s no sexual innuendo (mostly) and this isn’t an exhortation on the commercialism of our society.

But if you sell anything using the Internet, (as in you have a website, a FB page, Twitter, or even Kijiji) you are selling yourself. 100% of the time, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

Image has always mattered. Successful salespeople have always been blessed with physical attractiveness, charm, a blend of the two, or the ability to fake them. What has changed if the landscape in which we are selling our products. Today your social currency is more important and more visible than at any other point in history. You are searchable: your opinions, personality (or lack thereof), your trustworthiness, and your capability – all out there in public for anyone to find.

Today, your buyer has already Googled your product, asked their Facebook friends for recommendations, and read online reviews – all before you even know they exist. We are a society of researchers with infinite information at our fingertips. Sellers are no longer the experts on features and benefits – buyers have Twitter and Pinterest for that.

What they want, what everyone in our communication-driven, connection-deprived society wants is you

They want to support people who are worth their effort, and they want to see the good guy succeed. Buyers today are more cautious and less credulous, likely owing to the sheer glut of information, advertising, and social engineering they live in. They are looking for someone to root for, to stand behind, to earn their loyalty.

What does that mean for salespeople? It means a huge paradigm shift. It means that when discussing sales strategy, branding, or your marketplace, you must focus as much on the individual as you are on the product. Know as much hello im awesomeabout your strengths and weaknesses as you do about features and benefits.  You need to hone and shape your and your employees’ personal branding (and, at times, even their personality.) If you’re an introvert, great! An extrovert, awesome! One of those lucky ambiverts we’re reading about everywhere lately? Lucky you! Let people know in no uncertain terms who they’re dealing with. Chances are, you will start to connect with buyers on a level you had never before imagined, and you will create not just customers, but lifelong clients and cheerleaders.

Once you have your message, it’s time to get it out there. Find your voice. Share your tastes. The best way to be your brand is to have your brand be you. (Read it again. It makes sense, trust me.)

And show your enthusiasm. Don’t drown your excitement for your cool new twist on an old favourite (THERE ARE NEW SUPER RESPONSIVE GORGEOUS SLIDERS AVAILABLE, PEOPLE!!! Just saying.) Show your love for what you sell and watch others fall in love too.

Sell yourself. And be worth the price.

 

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pretty woman

4 WAYS BEING STUBBORN CAN BE AWESOME

I’m an introvert. I am stubborn. The combination of those two traits has a power I never realized until I was an adult. stubborn

The power of introverts has been covered HERE HERE and HERE (yes we have our own website) but few people have tackled the inherent value in being stubborn (see also “mule-like”, or as I prefer to label myself: “spiritedly willful.”)

4 WAYS BEING STUBBORN CAN BE AWESOME

1. You will get what you want or die trying.

When you think of a stubborn toddler, it’s hard to see the possible later life benefit of refusing to eat for three days on end (because the food was served on the wrong plate), or choosing to wear the blue skirt for the 14th day in a row (because no other skirt twirls properly.)

As stubborn children turn into stubborn adults, though, most of us choose to channel our stubbornness into useful activities. This leads to a hardworking, ambitious workforce that will persevere due to sheer willfulness – even when the possible reward is slight and in no way guaranteed.

18732-11102012-0527-dog-tag-definition_of_stubborn 2. You are less likely to be swindled.

Stubbornness and incredulity go hand and hand. If you want me to believe that your way is better, that I should buy your product, or that I should change something (anything, even the part of my hair is off-limits without debate) then you’d better come at me packing facts, solid arguments, case studies, and a whole lot of spare time. Very few people out there whose goal is to take advantage of the innocent are willing to put in the time.

3. You are more difficult to peer pressure.

Stubbornness isn’t one of those socially adaptive traits that we hear about, like friendliness or leadership, but there are certain benefits to willfulness when dealing with peers that people with a more laid-back spirit can’t be taught. One of those is dealing with peer pressure.

You want me to jump off a bridge with you? If I don’t feel like it, I’m not going to. Threaten me with ostracization? Nope. Leave me behind while you do it yourself (assuming I’ll just follow your lead?) Go ahead. I am not budging.

4. You are more likely to survive.how-to-deal-with-stubborn-kids-childhood-education

I firmly believe that stubbornness is an adaptive trait. It’s just way, way harder to kill someone who flat-out refuses to die.

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To Be a Successful Entrepreneur

…you have to channel your inner toddler.

I’ve read books, I’ve talked to successful entrepreneurs, I have built a solid network of businesspeople  – great people that I trust, people who are willing to guide and teach and share their vast experience.

I have spent wasted hours upon hours on blogs and in book stores trying to find that blinding light, the switch to flip in my mind, that perfect formula of x + y – z to equal my success. And all along, I have had the template right in from of me, but I was too snot-covered sleep-deprived busy to notice.

She just turned 4, and yet my little girl has figured out everything an entrepreneur needs to make sense of their world, reach new levels of success, and find happiness along the way.

toddler 8

Strategies for Success: A Toddler’s Guide

Don’t take “no” for an answer.

At least not the first time, or the second, or probably not the tenth. If it’s really really important to you, you can probably hold out longer than they can. Eventually, people cave. And if you’re adorable, they’ll cave and still think you’re the cat’s pyjamas.

A little delusion goes a long way.

toddler 7You need to be the centre of your universe to be a successful entrepreneur (at least during your working life…which, let’s be honest, is pretty much your entire life.) You have to believe that you are going to succeed where countless others have failed, and you have to believe that every risk you take for yourself, your company, and your family is going to pay off. You have to believe that “no” means “not yet” and that “impossible” means “no one’s tried hard enough.” Otherwise you are destined to a life of spinning your wheels in the muck of self-doubt, safety, and mediocrity. Know you’re the sh*t, embrace that you’re the sh*t, advertise the fact that you’re the sh*t, and be as you as you can be.

Sleep is important.

I’m on a bit of a sleep journey right now (no, not just because this sinus infection has me popping NyQuil like candy after the kids go to bed) and I’ll probably have more to say about this in a few weeks. One thing I’m sure won’t change is that when I’m fried, my work suffers. Being an entrepreneur means being disciplined in how you spend your time – ALL of your time. And that includes deciding to get sufficient sleep (whatever that magic number is for you. I’m good with 6 hours, but YMMV.)

toddler 10Scheduling is your friend.

So you’re your own boss, you set your own schedules. Awesome! But you’re always trying to pull things out at the last minute, forgetting little details here and there, and getting to the end of the day before you get to the end of your to-do list? Not so awesome. Scheduling is as vital for me as it is for my kids. You wouldn’t schedule a wild birthday party for twelve 4 year olds at 7pm, would you? (If yes, know what I and all the other mothers around actually wish you harm.) Everyone needs routine to help automate certain tasks. Beyond that, know your Circadian rhythms. I know that I am never going to function at peak efficiency between 2-4pm. That’s just not me. I’m a morning person and a night owl – but not much of an afternooner. I set up my schedule accordingly: tasks that are routine and take a little bit of research are best for early morning, tasks that need more concentration are best in the mid morning, tasks that need my full creativity are best done at night. New client meetings can be anytime – adrenaline takes care of the afternoon blahs; but for status meetings where I need to be 100% focused I try to stay away from my zombie hours.

Boredom is your enemy.

toddler 9If I’ve been working on a given project for too long, I have discovered that it’s better for everyone involved for me to walk away – sometimes physically – for an hour or so. Watch what happens when you leave a bored toddler alone in a room with equipment/clothing/etc. They will ruin it, pee on it, set it on fire, anything to make it different. And that’s fine…as long as it wasn’t expensive, valuable, or NOT YOURS. Breaking up your day, giving yourself the time to refocus, to generate new ideas, or just change your mental scenery is essential – there are no medals for “Person Who Stared at a Screen Until They Wanted to Smash It into Bits and Got Nothing Accomplished the Longest.” Seriously, just walk away for 10 minutes. It will save you hours of wasted time, pounds of frustration, and glasses of wine.

Always, ALWAYS ask “Why?”

toddler 12The “what” will take care of itself. You will try to tweak and modify and improve and perfect your product or your service every day for the rest of the time you are in your business. This is just part of what we do. But how do we know what to change, how to make it better, how to land that client that rejected us, how to get bigger and better and more badass? We need to know the “why.” Why did that client not choose you? Are they just an idiot? (Answer: probably, you’re pretty awesome.) Why has your field taken a stance that you think will set you back 50 years? Why aren’t you getting new clients when old clients are happy with your product? Why can’t your employee understand the very simple instruction you’re giving them? Why do you need a website? (Yes, that was a shameless plug. My blog, my choice.) The why gives you the direction to make the smartest decisions about the what.

When in doubt – dance party!

toddler 7You feeling down? Did you just eat candy until you puked? Are people just not listening to you today, no matter HOW LOUDLY YOU SCREAM? Then, you, my friend, are ready for a dance party of epic proportions. Exercise has a gazillion benefits, both physical and mental. Movement to music is proven to enhance mood, creativity, and energy levels. Plus, you’re at work and you get to decide what you’re going to do right now. Isn’t that why we all became entrepreneurs in the first place?

Getting exactly what you want does not always make you happy.

I gave her the juice she wanted in the cup she chose AND let her help pour...but didn't let her lick up what she had spilled on the table.

I gave her the juice she wanted in the cup she chose AND let her help pour…but didn’t let her lick up what she had spilled on the table.

There will come a time when you achieve everything you have ever wanted. You will have a growing, profitable company with happy employees and a positive outlook. And you will be bored silly. There will be no more challenge, or at least, not one you’re willing to invest in here anymore. The risk will look less risky, and, like everything else in life (except love, because love is ALWAYS bright and shiny) the bloom will be off the rose. It will be time to move on. Find a new obsession, a new love, or maybe take this one is a completely new direction. Because entrepreneurs don’t work for companies. They build them. And, like parenting, there will come a time when you have to let go and let your little creation stand on its own, be guided by others, and you will simply stand back and admire what you created.

And finally…

Even if you can do it all by yourself, it’s way more fun to travel the entrepreneurial road with trusted friends. toddler 13

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The 10 Commandments of #SocialMedia

In all arenas of human interaction, there are social contracts that govern our behaviours. As our society has become increasingly techified (NEW WORD! YAY!) the rules that govern socialization have been refined and generally ratified. That is not to say that we have reached a consensus on every last little behaviour (like, exactly HOW many emojis am I allowed to use on an Instagram comment???) but it”s no longer the Wild West out there in the Interwebz.

ten commandments

Commandment #1

Thou shalt not set up, engage in, or recommend to others to engage in “Thanks for following! Check out my blog/product/book/stuffy collection” auto-DMs.

Commandment #2

Thou shalt not spam LinkedIn with a ton of stupid updates that no one is interested in and that bear not even the slightest connection to your business.

Commandment #3

Further, thou shalt not spam Twitter, FB, or any other SMN in the same way. This means your avi should not be at the top of EVERY feed EVERY time I log into EVERY SMN.

Commandment #4

Thou shalt not tweet or share an update with the incorrect “there/their/they”re” unless it is with clearly defined ironic intent. Even then, don”t. You”re just confusing the people who can”t keep them straight.

Commandment #5

Thou shalt not solely tweet/share promos. No one wants to listen to you hawk your wares for 500 posts.

Commandment #6

Further, thou shalt realize that social media is first and foremost SOCIAL. Social implies interaction and personality. If I wanted to read your ad in a newspaper, I”d have bought one.

Commandment #7

Thou shalt not be negative in thy tweets. I get that winter blows, I”m actually experiencing the same winter myself, thanks. I don”t need 50 reminders that it”s cold as a blankety-blank”s blankety-blank.

ADDENDUM TO COMMANDMENT #7

So the powers that be have invoked an addition to Commandment #7. All forms of non-traumatic negativity are hereby forbidden, or at least limited to one whiny post per month. Being sad about real stuff is totally ok, and if you are having a hard day I”ll give you a cupcake to make you feel better (for real). However…

Thou shalt also not be negative about Mondays. They come every week. If you embrace them (or pretend that they aren”t happening and it”s actually just a day called First Tuesday which will be followed by Second Tuesday) it will be much less painful.

Commandment #8

Should thou be missing a personality that may attract new followers, thou shalt still create variety for thine current followers, combining food pics, cat pics, hockey game live tweets, and stolen ecard pics, and never shalt thou stick to only one of the above.

Commandment #9

Thou shalt not RT more than 4 consecutive tweets from the same account, and thou mayest not exceed 8 within a 24 hour period. I don”t give a crap how funny they are. The limit is non-negotiable. Choose wisely.

Commandment #10

Thou shalt not forgo the advice of thine social media manager, thinking thou knowest better. Thou doesn”t.

BONUS COMMANDMENT

Thou shall limit thyself to #one #or #two #hashtags #per #update.

BONUS COMMANDMENT ADDENDUM

It has been determined by wise and much-lauded authority that multiple hashtags are to be allowed in Instagram, only Instagram, and nothing but Instagram. And even in this one specific case, users are limited to 5 hashtags, the root words of which much be different. (Ex: “#cats #cutecats #catsofinstagram #cutecatsofinstagram #caturday” is FORBIDDEN.)

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To Blog or Not to Blog?

Website, social media, Google, SEO, Adwords…BLOG?!?

We all know how important it is to get your message out to as large an audience as possible. Between scheduling tweets, third party managers, and more advice on the internet than you can shake a thumbdrive at, sharing your message has never been easier. The problem now is that business owners, entrepreneurs, and salespeople often become overwhelmed with all the options available to them to spread their message.

"BLOG" Tag Cloud (social media news online website web internet)

So here it is: your answer to the burning question DO I NEED A BLOG?

*Yes, I had noticed that below I’ve just given you more questions and no answers. That’s kind of the point. You need to figure this stuff out for yourself. I’m just a guide to help you find your path. Or a lantern to guide you on your way. Or a fairy (because they’re magical…)*
  • Do you want to build your brand?

If you want to build your brand YOU NEED A BLOG. Blogs get information out in a way that is both controlled and message-friendly. You can share more of yourself in a blog post than in 140 characters. Twitter, Google+ (don’t look at me that way, Google+ is the medium of the future damn it) and other social media networks are great to broadcast your message, but to get the most bang for your content buck, they are best used in conjunction with a solid blog.

  • Are you looking to promote

    a sale, or showcase a product?

If you’re just looking to sell product, then you need a clear and well designed website, a Facebook page, and maybe a LinkedIn account to promote yourself as a salesperson. YOU DO NOT REQUIRE A BLOG.

  • Are you in a saturated industry, or a niche market?

YOU NEED A BLOG. If your industry is saturated (think midscale women’s wear retailers) your online presence is going to have to sell you: the person, the brand, or the commodity to set you apart from the pack. If you are in a niche market (think upscale bicycle tires) then you need to get your message out beyond your current clients to all niche enthusiasts.

  • Are you looking to be “the expert”?

Kid shouting through megaphone

YOU NEED A BLOG. You want to be the epicentre for all information in your field? You need a really loud megaphone, and that (on the internet) is a captivating blog. Having a kickass blog makes you the person “in the know”, the one who hosts all the guest bloggers, the one-stop-shop for everything that happens in your area of expertise.

  • Have you ever been described as “a personality”? (More importantly do you HAVE a personality?)

Larger than life, bigger and badder than your competition, the consummate salesperson – YOU NEED A BLOG. It’s difficult to pin your amazing personality down in little tweets or updates. Give yourself free rein and go wild with a blog celebrating your passion and enthusiasm for your business, your life, and your clients.

  • Do you have the time, resources, interest, and ability to manage a blog (or to hire someone to do it for you)?

YOU NEED A BLOG. You’ll need to have someone to proofread and edit your blogs anyway, so going all in and having a professional do the grunt work is a great investment (says the totally unbiased content writer…) But seriously, dedicating time to write can be difficult (especially if writing wasn’t your favourite thing to do in high school). Don’t give up the benefits of having a blog just because you don’t have the schedule or inclination to bang out 500 words every week – you still have your job to do. There are people who will do this for you.

  • Do you have enough to say?

This one…you’re on your own. Pick a number of posts you want to have per month (there are differing opinions on the golden number, but I believe one post a week is the best way to go for most businesses) and write three months’ worth of posts in advance. That way you have a backlog of articles on hand before your first post, and will give you the time to figure out if you can handle the extra work yourself, or if you should look at hiring someone (me) to handle your content writing. You will still be in charge of topics, you still have final say over tone, content, voice, and direction – you just don’t have to worry about finding 17 synonyms for “good” and if you used the correct “its”. A professional will work out a content calendar with you, so that everything is prepared in advance. Everyone stays on the same page, and you have the security of knowing that awesome content is being produced while you handle your day-to-day business.

Updating a blog, even if you don’t want to call it a “blog” on your site is the best way to increase visibility, Google ranking, and get your message to the masses. On the internet content is king, and blogging is nothing but a quick and dirty way to get to the business of selling.

And for the naysayers: Blogging is not dead, it’s just changing form – like a butterfly. You know better than to believe everything you’ve read on the internet, right?

**Remember you can always contact me to schedule a consultation if you’re on the fence about all this highfalutin’ fancy blogging stuff.**

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How to Be a Master Communicator

Everyone knows the importance of clear, effective communication. I have yet to meet anyone who believes that communication is completely unimportant (even my 3 year old grasps the concept that BEING HEARD WILL GET YOU STUFF.) Most of us also believe that we”re crack communicators – spoken and/or written, and it”s everyone else that has the problem.

Tin can phoneSo we hone our message, practice in front of the mirror, and ignore the glaringly obvious law of communication that has been staring us in the face since the dawn of time: IT”S NOT ABOUT YOU. Seriously, it”s not. Take a conversation between two people. In order for actual communication of ideas to occur, both people must leave the interaction having first sent and then received the same message. So, 50% of the task falls to the speaker, and 50% to the listener. Did you get that? Only 50% of the task is that of the speaker. Communication is, in fact, the great equalizer. Every person involved in the interaction is equally important if our goal is to communicate effectively. Now think about big group meetings with 25 people involved and only 1 speaker. Each of those people is 0.04% of the equation, and so on with bigger groups. The speaker is never the star…unless they”re speaking only to themselves. (Which sadly, happens a lot more than one would like to think.)

I had a client once, we will call him Bob, who informed me on a regular basis that his verbal communication was excellent. This was usually in the middle of a tangential tirade involving incomprehensible jargon (we were not in the same field of work), more description of himself, his people and various situations that you could possibly count, and very, very little direction or discussion on the task for which he had called the meeting. Needless to say, Bob was often frustrated by those around him, and those around him were often frustrated as well.

There are laws, fixed and finite, that govern communication. Follow them, and you may run into difficulties that you had never considered. Break them, and while you may never realize it, you will be like Bob, forever wondering why people can”t seem to understand you, listen to you, or do what you want.

Business meeting in an officeFirst Law: (LCD) Lowest Common Denominator

If you are lucky enough to only communicate with people who are smarter than you, then you may ignore this rule. Otherwise, read carefully: your message is only as brilliant as far it is understood. A communicator”s job is not to wow people with intricacies of thought, verbal gymnastics, or a vocabulary that Shakespeare would envy. Successful communicators know how to get an idea from their brain into someone else”s brain in a way that the other person can comprehend, respond, and react appropriately.

Remember the 2 Cs: be clear, be concise. A well-constructed sound byte will last in your listener”s memory far longer than your entire message. If your message has many equally important parts, chunk them up, and give each their own “headline” – a takeaway that you want your listeners to remember.

Second Law: He Who Has Ears, Let Him Hear

Listening, and especially “active listening” have been communication”s Holy Grail for a few years now. Listening in such a way that the speaker knows your focus is on them, responding often, and maintaining eye contact have all been taught as the one true path to enlightenment. There are two unfortunate side effects to this well meaning strategy: you may be so focused on looking like you are listening that you forget to actually listen, or your intent in listening is to respond rather than to understand. Master communicators know the most important aspect of listening is to focus. They know not to multitask. They take each message one at a time, and ensure proper understanding by all parties concerned. To give a tennis analogy, master communicators know to rally and don”t jump right to their overhead smash.

Strong communicators are not afraid to ask for clarification if they feel they need it, nor are they afraid to paraphrase the speaker”s message as they understand it in order to check for inaccuracies. These little checks and double checks can save time, frustration, and if you need a project completed, they will save you money. Interoffice friction is almost always based on a lack of proper communication, or the sheer number of miscommunications that abound in a given work day. Miscommunications are rarely anyone”s fault, but they are everyone”s responsibility.

Third Law: Horton”s Law

horton“I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant”s faithful 100 percent.” (Horton Hears a Who, Dr. Seuss)

Even if your message is delivered and understood perfectly, your communication will suffer if it cannot be trusted. At the end of the day words are just words, and if yours don”t match your actions, they will lose their magic. Master communicators constantly monitor the message they deliver not only for clarity, but also for feasibility. Best practice if you aren”t sure exactly what you can accomplish, if you”re relying on words rather than numbers: under promise and over deliver.

That will make people stand up and listen.

Final Thought

Now, as my significant other knows, writing a good email can cover a multitude of sins. If your writing is up to snuff, then try writing out your message before speaking it – chances are you will have written in such a way as to avoid obfuscation and consternation (see what I did there??) and your message will be received mostly intact.

young couple in bedDefending against miscommunications and misunderstandings by tailoring your message to your audience, asking for clarification, listening to understand, and doing what you say may at first seem cumbersome, but will soon be second nature (and will pay off in other areas of your life as well.)

(“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” Ralph Waldo Emerson)

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2014 – The Year of Passion

I came out of 2012 hoping for survival. It was the most difficult and challenging year of my life, one I would never wish to repeat. I learned the hard way what it means to lose, to regret, to love, to hang on when there is nothing left to hang on to.

I needed 2013 to be better, but in its inimitable fashion, my immediate future turned out to be much different than I’d expected. I wanted to “get by”, and instead I learned how to live. I wanted to be fearless, and in being fearless, I learned to grow up. Looking back, 2013 gave me so much more than I could ever have asked of it.

This year, I am looking to live with fire.

This year, I am looking to live with fire.

I’m coming out of 2013 looking to live with fire.  Every year, I try to choose a word. Sometimes it’s an adjective, sometimes a noun. I seek to become or develop a trait that I am lacking. For 2013, I chose “FEARLESS”.

This year, I’m trying something a bit different. This year, I am choosing a trait I have in spades. I am choosing a trait that I love. I’m choosing to work on becoming more me.

This year, the year 2014, I am choosing “PASSION”.

Where ‘fearless’ was me pulling away from something, controlling my impulses, ‘passion’ is me running toward something, embracing a part of me that I’ve always sought to keep (mostly) under wraps. I want to stop stopping. I want to fail spectacularly and then see what kind of phoenix will rise from my ashes.

Here’s to 2014 being even more than 2013 was. Here’s to a year of healing, hope, life, and passion.

Passion

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In Defense of Home-Based Businesses

I should start by saying that I think offices are awesome. Offices are where the office supplies are, and I freaking love office supplies. I am not in any way impugning the choice of my fellow entrepreneurs and business owners who have chosen to take up residence in an out-of-home setting. Especially for those who run sprawling businesses with many employees, office managers, etc., having office space makes good business sense. My issue is with those who consider my choice to not have an “actual” office (grr…) to be indicative of a lack of success, lack of expertise, or – most insulting – to be Un. Pro. Fesh. Uh. Nul. (Yes, I do get the irony of typing out that particular word in a rather unprofessional way. But this is a rant. It is only a rant. If this were a real blog post there would be bulleted lists and suchlike and so forth. Oh, wait. There are bulleted lists. Oh well, carry on.)Buried Businesswoman

So, here are my “Top 5 Reasons Why Having a Home Office Works Better for Me Than the Alternative”:

1. Overhead.

Cup of coffeeMinimal overhead achieves three all-important business ends.

• More money for k-cups which = higher productivity, faster service, and funnier typos.

• More funds available for high quality subcontractors which = higher quality work and faster service.

• Ability to charge less for a competitive product (delivered with high quality and fast service.)

2. Distractions

Many people believe that people who work from home spend more time scouring Pinterest and Facebook than doing “actual work.” Three issues:

• Part of my “actual work” is spending time on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and all the rest, and I can do that just as well at home as in an office.

• I have worked in an office where I saw entire mornings wasted away on said sites (by colleagues, of course, never ever myself), punctuated by useless meetings and water-cooler talk.

• I’m a million times more productive when I can control my environment, and would have a harder time controlling all of the auxiliary stimuli inherent in regular offices.

3. Hours

Working from home allows me many freedoms, but they are freedoms that must be moderated if you want to maintain a successful business (there’s that professionalism thing again…)

• I do some of my best work at night, during which time I do NOT have to leave the house and pay a babysitter to watch my sleeping children. I can write and code just as fluently in jammies, thankyouverymuch.

• I never have to worry about leaving an important document (or, more like in my case, an important sticky note) “at the office.”

• My office is sacrosanct. It is in my home, but not of my home. I work there. Much like office-dwellers work in their spaces. The big difference? My commute is a dream.

4. Change of scenery is good for me. I get so wrapped up in my little HALA world that sometimes it’s healthy for me to get out, see different things, taste different coffees. It also benefits my clients: I will meet them anywhere they wish, wherever is most convenient for them. This is not “unprofessional”; it is actually valued by many of them. (As is the coffee I pay for during said meetings…) If I were paying for space, I’d likely stay there as much as humanly possible, just to rationalize the expense.

slippers walk

5. I have all the comforts of home ten feet away, and all the office supplies and productivity perks at my fingertips. Having my fuzzy slippers on as I write does not detract from my grammar/CSS/SM skills. I promise. (But being able to afford less coffee might…)

 

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